matali crasset + zimbabwean weavers renew function of the gourd basket

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matali crasset + zimbabwean weavers renew function of the gourd basket
image courtesy of matali crasset

 

 

 

in fall of 2013, curator and art critic christine eyene invited matali crasset to work with a small community in the context of bulawayo, zimbabwe’s home industry that is largely fueled by the art and craft of basketry. no stranger to being involved in socially sustainable projects, crasset went to the african country’s second largest city in spring 2014 to work intensively with a group of 17 women — organized into five groups — who were masters of straw and weaving, to collaborate on a series of functional objects using their expertise in basket making to realize them.

matali crasset zimbabwe gourd basket designboom
matali crasset’s ‘the gourd’s family’ clockwise from bottom left:
vase tripode / flower, H 32 x 42 x 42 cm diameter;
paniere à trois gourds, H 33 x 42 x 32 cm;
miroir, H 34 x 33 cm de diamétre
all made from basketry of fiber and inqwanga ilala
bulawayo home industries, bulawayo, zimbabwe
image courtesy of matali crasset

 

 

 

the objects coming out of the week-long program were all an evolution of an iconic form developed in the community — the gourd. the irregularity and organic qualities of its shape were what fueled the french designer to use this as a starting point. crasset asked the artisans to reduce the typical size of the containers they made, and to experiment and explore the possible forms and functional objects that could extend from them — wanting to employ the weavers’ skills and knowledge to develop a range of craft pieces into unique pieces of design.

matali crasset zimbabwe gourd basket designboom
matali crasset
‘the gourd’s family’
vase à six gourds
H 35 x 42 x 42 cm
made from basketry of fiber and inqwanga ilala
bulawayo home industries, bulawayo, zimbabwe
image courtesy of matali crasset

 

 

 

stating that ‘they are almost like sculptures‘, crasset’s work with the women has given birth to ‘the gourd’s family’, a collection of objects that has a visual language that remains close to nature. while still retaining the recognizable gourd shape, each one expresses a different feel and function — some of the resulting pieces are combinations of the bulbous forms, which evolved into a bag, another is in the shape of a bulb that has a mirror placed at its centre, while other explorations have seen the conception of a vase, matopos sculptural shapes that stand as a decorative and functional bowl, even a low table.

matali crasset the gourd's family designboom matali crasset
‘the gourd’s family’
vase tripode / flower
H 26 x 22 x 22 cm
made from basketry of fiber and inqwanga ilala
bulawayo home industries, bulawayo, zimbabwe
image courtesy of matali crasset

 

 

 

in hosting the workshop, matali crasset wanted the crafts people to further develop their skills and imagination to create completely new products.

matali crasset the gourd's family designboom
matali crasset
‘the gourd’s family’
table / plateau
H 15 x 45 cm
made from basketry of fiber and inqwanga ilala
bulawayo home industries, bulawayo, zimbabwe
image courtesy of matali crasset

 

matali crasset the gourd's family designboom
matali crasset
‘the gourd’s family’
miroir
H 34 x 33 cm
made from basketry of fiber and inqwanga ilala
bulawayo home industries, bulawayo, zimbabwe
image courtesy of matali crasset

 

matali crasset the gourd's family designboom
detail of the weaving

 

matali crasset the gourd's family designboom
matali crasset
‘the gourd’s family – matopos’
panier à trois gourds
H 33 x 42 x 32 cm
made from basketry of fiber and inqwanga ilala
bulawayo home industries, bulawayo, zimbabwe
image courtesy of matali crasset

 

matali crasset the gourd's family designboom
matali crasset
‘the gourd’s family’
vase à deux longues gourds
H 24 x 19 x 19 cm
made from basketry of fiber and inqwanga ilala
bulawayo home industries, bulawayo, zimbabwe
image courtesy of matali crasset

 

matali crasset the gourd's family designboom
matali crasset
‘the gourd’s family – matopos’
vase à trois gourds
H 32 x 42 x 42 cm
made from basketry of fiber and inqwanga ilala
bulawayo home industries, bulawayo, zimbabwe
image courtesy of matali crasset

 

matali crasset the gourd's family designboom
detail

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